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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337


VAN RENSBURG, Viki Janse. Doing, being and becoming a first year occupational therapy student. S. Afr. j. occup. ther. [online]. 2011, vol.41, n.2, pp.8-13. ISSN 2310-3833.

This paper explores the experiences of three occupational therapy students from middle-class backgrounds who encountered academic challenges during their first year. In contrast to notions of academic risk being linked to constructs of working class status or being first generation university entrants, the three students in the case study came from middle class backgrounds, had parents and siblings who held tertiary qualifications and had attended 'good' schools. This study forms part of a larger, longitudinal research project that explores students' learning by tracing their progress over the course of the undergraduate years. Bourdieu's analytical constructs of habitus, field and capital were used to analyse data obtained from individual interviews, a focus group interview, questionnaires and examples of students' written work. The challenges experienced are reported in three themes -challenges in academic literacy; in balancing social life with academic demands; and in negotiating diversity and complexity in a new social world.

Keywords : Academic challenges; first year; academic literacy; middle class; institutional practices.

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